Sustainability is a common buzz-word these days. Every designer and their mother now claims to be a sustainable designer. Do not get me wrong, being a considerate, respectful and sustainable designer is something everyone in this industry should strive towards. I simply feel that countless agencies and freelancers use the word as a means of getting clients in through the doors.
This industry, which we love so very dearly, is by definition one of consumption. We consume paper, ink, electricity and coffee (this final one might not be as important some would suggest, but definitely essential). It is our responsibility to reduce the amount we use and, more than anything, waste. Vastly, the only thing preventing these changes is laziness. For some reason it is easier to just put another piece of paper in the printer than to reuse a previously used piece, paper does tend to have to sides to use. Recycling also plays leading role in the practice of sustainability and it is possibly the easiest part for any individual to take responsibility over. Take your waste paper, put it in the recycling bin and you're done! Well, you are at least on your way.
In this day and age, it is simple to become more sustainable. Advances in technology alone help by reducing power consumption as well as providing more innovative printing processes. On the subject of printing, there a numerous professional printers that specialise and mainly cater for sustainable practices. Choosing paper stock endorsed by the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council), having presses that can cope with vegetable based oils, even turning away designs that are too ink heavy. All of these factors make being considerate that bit easier.
However, the dichotomy of the situation is that some projects cannot be entirely sustainably achieved. Specialised briefs can mean creating something beautiful and remarkable but at an environmental cost. I feel the way that we should all view this topic is to strive for the best, do as much as you possibly can to make a difference and a change (the smallest things can make a big difference). And one more thing, I don't think people should be able to bound the term sustainability about as a marketing term.